US 'prepared to do more' after Syria strike

Saturday, 08 April 2017 03:29

The U.S.'s strike on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack was a "very measured step", Washington's envoy to the UN said Friday.

"We took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more. We hope that it will not be necessary," Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council.

"It was time to say enough; but not only say it, it was time to act," Haley said.

The U.S. late Thursday fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military air base American officials believe was used to carry out the attack, the Pentagon confirmed.

The strikes came in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack Tuesday in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib that killed more than 100 civilians and injured around 500 others.

Friday's Security Council session saw the U.S. and its allies exchange blame with Russia and Bolivia -- which called the meeting -- and ended without a vote on a draft resolution to condemn the chemical weapons attack.

Addressing the Council, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov warned of "extremely serious" consequences of the U.S. action, calling it "illegitimate" and a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions.

Safronkov accused the U.S., the U.K. and France of having "this paranoid idea of overthrowing the legitimate government of Syria", saying that this hurts the Geneva peace process.

“When you lead your own path, this leads to horrible tragedies for countries in the region,” Safronkov said.

In a statement on the U.S. military action, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for restraint, reiterating support for a political solution.

"I call on the parties to urgently renew their commitment to making progress in the Geneva talks," Guterres said. 

US facing 'headwinds' in Council

Earlier, Bolivia's permanent representative to the global body called the U.S. action "appalling" and "against international law.

"What happened yesterday, we understand, is a violation of the UN Charter," Ambassador Sacha Llorenti told reporters before the session.

"Unilateral actions are prohibited by the charter and we believe that we should defend multilateralism," he added.

On the other hand, French Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, called the strike a "game changer".

"U.S. strikes are a legitimate response to these attacks and an important signal for the future," Delattre told reporters.

During the meeting, U.K. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft questioned Russia ally Bolivia's intentions.

"The speaker before me shows more outrage against the U.S. than against the Assad regime, which on Tuesday deliberately killed over a hundred men, women, and children in the most barbaric fashion," Rycroft said.

"If you care about the UN Charter, why protect a dictator who has violated international law time and time again?" he asked.

A U.S. official at the UN, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, on Friday described the attack as a "perfectly justifiable argument" for U.S. action.

The official said Washington was "running into headwinds" in securing a Security Council response to the chemical weapons attack.

Asked on why the U.S. did not wait for a Council resolution to strike, the official said: "What has waiting brought us? Only more chemical attacks."